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Consequences of Population Growth for Health Services in Less Developed Countries-An Initial Appraisal
Leslie Corsa, Jr., and Deborah Oakley
Health—in the traditional sense of the absence of disease and disability or in the ideal of complete physical, mental, and social well-being—has long been one of man's aspirations. Reducing mortality and prolonging life are goals that are rarely in open conflict with other national objectives. However, the effectiveness of health services in comparison with other social and economic forces in achieving these ends has remained uncertain. The proportion of national income devoted to health services has tended to be small, with primary emphasis on alleviating disease and disability, not on preventing them. Since World War II, the application of new health technology to prevention of disease in many less developed countries (LDC's) has facilitated a more rapid reduction in mortality than previously experienced in any country. Since in most LDC's this development has been combined with negligible net migration and with unchanging high natality rates, the result is new world records for population growth. Many people and their govern-'ments are recognizing that present natality levels are producing multiple adverse consequences, not least upon their health and health services. For the first time in history governments are taking purposeful actions to control natality as well as mortality—actions that require utilization of health services (1). Investments in health are beginning to be evaluated for their effect on population growth and per capita income as well as mortality and morbidity (2).
How does rapid population growth affect health services in LDC's? Since health services function through use by people to reduce mortality and mor-
Leslie Corsa is Director of the Center for Population Planning, University of Michigan. Mrs. Deborah Oakley is currently a Research Assistant in the Center for Prmulntinn Resources, Vol. 2, No. 3, 1967. pp. 293-309.